Posts from December 2008
A few months back, I got my hands on a pair of Sennheiser HD-555 headphones, and my experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Though they may be a little pricy for those who are used to paying $20-30 for headphones, they are more than worth it and make listening to music a joy.
I’ve had some past experience with Sennheiser products: my first pair were the HD 457s, which were followed by a pair of the portable yet powerful PX 100s, after which I got a pair of the HD-280s. Although I really enjoyed the HD-280s, I wanted to try out an open pair of cans (instead of closed), so I went ahead and got the HD-555s.
Closed vs. Open
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a pair of quality headphones is whether you want them to be “open” or “closed”. With closed headphones, your ears are completely sealed off, whereas with open headphones, there’s an opening for sound waves to propagate out from the headphones. Open headphones are generally higher quality, as the waves aren’t resonating off a closed earcup. However, it’s possible for people around you to hear what you’re listening to, which doesn’t happen with closed headphones. Also, the closed design blocks out a lot of external sound, so they’re great if you want to block things out.
The HD-555s are open, and I can definitely notice a difference compared to my HD-280s. Bass is punchier, and music is, in general, much crisper. The 555s are also super comfortable: I’ve listened to music for hours at a time without feeling any discomfort, whereas the HD-280s get uncomfortable after about an hour or so.
Some negatives: if someone’s sitting near me while I’m using the HD-555s, they can definitely hear what I’m listening to. For the most part, it’s not an issue, but if I’m somewhere quiet, like the library or something, I usually use different headphones so as not to annoy others. In a similar vein, outside noises are definitely more noticeable with the closed design. With the 280s, I could take them on the plane and not hear the engine at all, with my iPod only at about 50% volume. My 555s, however, require me to turn the volume almost all the way up, and even then, it can be hard to hear quieter songs.
That being said, I definitely would recommend the HD-555s to anyone looking to get a high quality pair of headphones for a reasonable price (they’re right around $100). You could spend hundreds more and get some amazing headphones, but for casual listening, these are a great value.